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Great movies with disappointing endings (spoiler alert!)


Toto
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Spoiler alert!  This topic involves discussing the endings of movies. 

Ever watch a wonderful movie then at the ending feel let down?  Here's an example when this happened to me.  Please share other examples!

Alice Adams (1935)

The story of a working class girl (played by Katherine Hepburn) who tries to unsuccessfully climb the social ladder.  She is thrilled when wealthy Russell (played by Fred MacMurray)  takes an interest in her and agrees to have dinner at her family's home.  Her financially struggling family tries to impress Russell with fine dining but things teeter on the brink of disaster.  Katherine Hepburn gives a poignant and stirring acting performance in this film.  I think it is my favorite Hepburn performance and that's saying a lot!  But at the end of the movie, the original script left Alice's relationship with Russell up in the air while Alice goes to secretarial school.  RKO executives wanted a happy ending where Alice gets Russell.  Director George Stevens and Katherine Hepburn opposed the change and so do I.  The original ending was more powerful and like real life.

image.jpeg.34dba197d698974a55a975903ff59b9c.jpeg     Vudu - Alice Adams George Stevens, Katharine Hepburn, Fred MacMurray, Fred  Stone, Watch Movies & TV Online     Silver Scenes - A Blog for Classic Film Lovers: Alice Adams ( 1935 )

 

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The Night of the Hunter I have always regarded as a kind of dark fairy tale, with both a Big Bad Wolf and Mother Goose character featured in it. The first 70 minutes or so is riveting, gradually evolving into a stylized black and white tale of terror involving a psychopathic preacher and two small children on the run. In the film's final half hour or so, when the children are taken in by the Mother Goose character for protection, both the pace and tension slackens as the Big Bad Wolf largely fades into the background for what will be a meek finale for what had been one of the great villainy portraits of the movies by Robert Mitchum.

I still regard it as a great movie but with a weak, unsatisfactory final quarter. I kept looking for a return of the terror and tension that had marked the first three quarters of the film but it never came. To put it bluntly evil is more interesting than good.

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"Revenge of the Nerds.."  Our main nerd ends up with the snobby cheerleader type, when I wanted him to tell her to drop dead and go off with the nice nerd-girl.

"Grease."  After Olivia had changed into greaser clothes to please him, I expected Travolta to come out in preppy clothes, but no, I guess, it's all about women changing for the men.

[Not that these meet the "great movies" standard, just the first things that came to mind.]

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One flew over the cuckoo’s nest : Jack Nicholson getting lobotomized. Should’ve got the heck out of that place when he did. To heck with Brad Dourif’s character.

Rocky : wished Rocky knocked Apollo’s lights out with one good last punch. instead of the two hugging and Rocky telling Apollo he didn’t want a rematch.

Bonnie and Clyde :  wished the two had gotten away.
 

 

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17 hours ago, Katie_G said:

 

Titanic_(1997_film)_poster.png

It was bad enough when Rose wouldn't make room for Jack on the floating door, but later when she casually threw the necklace into the water I wanted to scream.

But that wasn't the end of the movie.  It was after the necklace was thrown overboard, we see the aged Rose(Gloria Stewart) sleeping and the images of the sunken Titanic being revived to original condition although still on the ocean bottom and the camera traveling down to the ship then along the deck and going through big double doors to reach the huge stairway where the young (but alive)Jack stands waiting and turns to see a young Rose meet him on the steps with passengers and crew(with captain Smith) applauding their long awaited embrace in an "afterworld" type scenario.  implying obviously that the aged Rose died in her sleep and met with her "true love" in the afterlife.  I thought it very effective and one of the better scenes in the movie.   But thanks to Rod Serling and many TWILIGHT ZONE episodes, I became a sucker for hypothetical hereafter type things like that.  ;) 

And I've seen several movies with what I thought were disappointing endings.  But off the top I can't come up with nary a one.  :( 

Sepiatone

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Superman (1978)

The ending of this great Superman movie strains credibility - even for Superman.   At the end, Superman flies around the world an incredible number of times at an incredible speed to reverse the earth's rotation and to roll back time and save Lois lane from an earthquake.  Up to this point, I loved this film which followed the life of Superman -  when he coming to earth as a boy to later working for the Daily Planet.  This is one of the best movies for carrying off a Superhero.  But the end is just too much!

image.jpeg.4a104b65d6060c527f3c8921c2b91258.jpeg

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1 minute ago, Toto said:

Superman (1978)

The ending of this great Superman movie strains credibility - even for Superman.   At the end, Superman flies around the world an incredible number of times at an incredible speed to reverse the earth's rotation and to roll back time and save Lois lane from an earthquake.  Up to this point, I loved this film which followed the life of Superman -  when he coming to earth as a boy to later working for the Daily Planet.  This is one of the best movies for carrying off a Superhero.  But the end is just too much!

image.jpeg.4a104b65d6060c527f3c8921c2b91258.jpeg

Superman’78. The greatest superhero movie ever made.

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23 hours ago, AndreaDoria said:

"Grease."  After Olivia had changed into greaser clothes to please him, I expected Travolta to come out in preppy clothes, but no, I guess, it's all about women changing for the men.

He did--The letter-sweater he got from trying to impress her on the track team.  Of course, once Olivia came out in the greaser clothes, the sweater quickly came OFF, but you can't change Danny.  😎

3801C49E00000578-3777708-image-m-24_1473

There's an entire Woke Culture, cancelling productions at high schools, around that selectively half-remembered mistake of not looking at both Gifts of the Magi, and it's not the first time that feminism has cherrypicked pieces of a movie to remember.

13 minutes ago, Toto said:

Superman (1978)

The ending of this great Superman movie strains credibility - even for Superman.   At the end, Superman flies around the world an incredible number of times at an incredible speed to reverse the earth's rotation and to roll back time and save Lois lane from an earthquake. 

Actually, that was left over from the scramble of Richard Lester trying to salvage the Richard Donner Cut of Superman II, which was going to be a two-part cliffhanger with General Zod escaping at the end of the first movie after Superman sent the missiles into space (talk about unsatisfying endings), and Superman turning back time at the end of #2  to undo all of Zod's destruction.

Unlike other last-minute studio patches of a troubled production, this one...sort of makes sense...I guess...in context.

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Pieces (1982) is an almost perfect trashy gory psychologically interesting horror film. The corpse's hand reaching up and grabbing Ian Sera's crotch (and presumably castrating him) at the end is a bridge too far. They should have ended the film about 30 seconds earlier. Not just because the act seems gratuitous, but because it introduces an element of the supernatural into a film which, despite impeccable horror film creds, is not a supernatural horror.

I was going to post a gif of the scene, but I better not. But here's an interesting article about the film.

https://horrorobsessive.com/2022/03/10/pieces-1982-a-meditation-on-the-fragmentary-nature-of-modern-existence-and-the-psychosexual-ramifications-of-nudie-puzzles/

 

 

 

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The part of SUPERMAN where he changes the Earth's rotation near the end to save Lois Lane always seemed a bit much -- as has been mentioned on this thread.   But I just had to mention it, too, because it was on my mind!  (Have some donuts and an alien everyone:   🍩 🍩  👽 ).

The ending of the 1983 horror movie THE HOUSE ON SORORITY ROW and the ending of the 1984 horror movie THE INITIATION:  Total botch jobs of a couple of overall decent horror movies.

The "un-killable killer" bit at the end of "Sorority Row" does not work like it does at the end of "Halloween".  The killer in "Sorority Row" falls backward down a flight of narrow attic stairs and breaks his damn neck . . . but the last shot of the movie shows he's still alive -- apparently meant that he's still able to threaten 'The Final Girl'.  Somehow.  →  How the killer is going to get up with a broken neck and continue terrorizing 'Final Girl' is a complete mystery to me.  Just silly.  I kept my old Vestron Video tape of this film, but that ending was mumbingly wrong-headed.  The deranged killer should've just been DEAD!  And be done with it! 

And the 'Evil Twin' bit at the end of THE INITIATION is another groaner.  The movie had entertained me quite a bit until that derivative ending -- which had been used before at the end of various movies I've seen (THE BLACK TORMENT from '64 and HOUSE OF THE LIVING DEAD, the '78 South African suspense movie).  The ending of THE INITIATION annoyed me so much I didn't even replace the tape when I accidentally messed up my copy.  Such a disappointing ending . . . pity. 

FEMALE (1933) is pretty good, but the resolution where Ruth Chatterton gives up all to be with George Brent is not satisfying.  There needed to be a better ending.  The ending of the Western GUNS OF THE TIMBERLAND with Alan Ladd and Jeanne Crain is actually very similar to the ending of FEMALE.  And it's not satisfying, either!  Jeanne Crain already has a functioning ranch that's making money and she just decides to run away with Alan Ladd at the end with no rhyme or reason.  Made no sense.  Tsk!  Tsk!

I forgot who wrote the script for CONTINENTAL DIVIDE (1981), but whoever it was couldn't come up with an ending!  Not a bad movie, I thought, but if only the scriptwriter had tightened up the ending a bit it would've been a better film.  Still, I like the movie well enough.  

And the 1997 movie THE FIFTH ELEMENT.  Why director Luc Besson thought to focus on loudmouth host Chris Tucker in the second half of the movie instead of Bruce Wills (where the •focus• should've remained) is beyond my comprehension.  

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13 minutes ago, Mr. Gorman said:

...FEMALE (1933) is pretty good, but the resolution where Ruth Chatterton gives up all to be with George Brent is not satisfying.  There needed to be a better ending. ...

Agreed. Excellent girl-power movie '33 style, i.e., without being self-congratulatory or smug, just confident, but the ending kinda, sorta undermines the rest of the movie. Chatterton is outstanding as the no-nonsense executive who, basically, is too busy running a company for serious relationships so she "She-Too's" her male employees. It's not right, but a heck of a thing to see in a 1933 movie.

 

 

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On 4/6/2022 at 4:10 PM, karlofffan said:

Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  The funniest movie ever made breaks the fourth wall and ends with a thud.

I agree. I used to agree more, but, over the years, it's grown on me a little bit, so, while I still don't love it, it doesn't bug me like it once did. I can even have a small appreciation for it now. Maybe it's just the nostalgia of just being what it is.

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3 hours ago, LsDoorMat said:

Well known to everybody, but Magnificent Ambersons. And yes I know the story behind it, but it is still a letdown. 

George never got the come-upins he should have, and it happened far too late in the game for the lives he ruined to be reparable. Unsatisfying ending.

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Okay, I'll now admit here that in order to give me some ideas for Toto's thread topic, I guess you could say I kind'a cheated here.

Ya see, I googled "Great movies with bad endings" and found a website which said it listed some of them. Among the movies listed in this website was the film Citizen Kane, and the following was what I would guess was what some clueless millennial's explanation as to why this acknowledged classic's ending was included in this list:

Citizen Kane

Considered by many as one of the greatest films ever made, Citizen Kane is known for its achievements in film-making and for its twist of an ending — was it much of a twist, though? Orson Welles piqued the audience's interest when his lead character, Kane, mysteriously muttered "rosebud" on his deathbed, but we were pretty baffled when it turned out to simply be the name of his childhood sled. Talk about a letdown.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Now, the reason I said "some clueless millennial" up there is because I must now ask how could ANYONE with ANY amount of life experience NOT recognize or understand and appreciate that the sled named Rosebud represents the idea that the ONLY time in his life that the titular character and a guy who it seems ends up with everything that money can buy, was ONLY truly happy when he was a child and before his mother sent him away in order for him to have a more privileged life?!!! And thus, this movie being a morality tale on the topic of "materialism" and to the exclusion of all else in life. Hell, even I understood this when I was about 15 y/o and after my first viewing of this classic. AND, an ending to a movie that STILL to this very DAY I believe is about as PERFECT an ending to a movie as ever was.

(...yep, the person who posted that up there DEFINITELY had to be some still-wet-behind-the-ears type, alright...aah, but hey, maybe SOMEDAY this kid might have a little epiphany about this...well, one might HOPE, anyway!)

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8 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Now, the reason I said "some clueless millennial" up there is because I must ask how could ANYONE with ANY amount of life experience NOT recognize or understand that the sled named Rosebud represents the idea that the ONLY time in his life that the titular character and guy who it seems ends up with everything that money can buy, was ONLY truly happy when he was a child and before his mother sent him away in order for him to have a more privileged life?!!!

Dargo old man, I know how much you care about language, so I want to make a suggestion. I think it would have been better if you had used the word "eponymous," rather than "titular." Both adjectives are accurate in the context of your sentence, but "titular" has a ring to it that calls up other images.

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31 minutes ago, Swithin said:

Dargo old man, I know how much you care about language, so I want to make a suggestion. I think it would have been better if you had used the word "eponymous," rather than "titular." Both adjectives are accurate in the context of your sentence, but "titular" has a ring to it that calls up other images.

LOL  ;)

Thanks, Swithin. Ya know, your suggestion here is probably a good one. 

Yep, I can just imagine what "other images" the word "titular" would conjure up in the unformed mind of, say, someone such as the aforementioned "clueless millennial", alright!

(...uh-huh, they'd probably think I was somehow being "sexist" by using it, huh!)  

LOL

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L.A. Confidential:   I've probably said this before.  I believe in the novel, which I've admittedly never read, the Cromwell character survives and the Crowe character doesn't.  And that's how the movie should have ended.  Indeed the movie goes downhill once Guy Pearce's character manages to explain to Crowe's what's going on.

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"The Red Lily" (1924) - This story of two young lovers goes to a very dark place, and then in the last two minutes wraps things up with an unbelievable happy ending. It is an example of the poll tested happy endings that got tacked on to MGM films in the 20s and 30s. 

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A few Hitchcock entries.  The first two are examples of adding some humorous closer to a film that, for me, falls flat.  I realize one of these had different versions that were released for different markets.

  • Strangers on a Train.  The add-on scene in the train's club car 
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much (Stewart/Day version): The ending scene where the couple pop back in to their hotel room with Hank in tow, looking none the worse for wear, by the way, to find their friends still there, asleep, and with Stewart cracking a joke, just doesn't work for me.

This one has been discussed a lot.

  • Psycho.  The scene with the doctor explaining things for us goes on for too long.  I might be convinced that the audiences of the day  needed some type of explanation for the crimes committed, but it goes on for too long.  I think cutting that scene significantly (perhaps completely) and then jumping to Bates sitting on the chair with the voiceover would have worked just as well. 

One Hitchcock film where I think the funny closing scene works is Rear Window.  Seeing Grace Kelly in casual wear (jeans) in Stewart's apartment, supposedly reading an adventure/travel book, but then switching to a fashion magazine perfectly sums up their relationship status without saying a word.

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29 minutes ago, txfilmfan said:

...One Hitchcock film where I think the funny closing scene works is Rear Window.  Seeing Grace Kelly in casual wear (jeans) in Stewart's apartment, supposedly reading an adventure/travel book, but the switching to a fashion magazine perfectly sums up their relationship status without saying a word.

I love that little touch at the end of this one too. 

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19 hours ago, Toto said:

Superman (1978)

The ending of this great Superman movie strains credibility - even for Superman.   At the end, Superman flies around the world an incredible number of times at an incredible speed to reverse the earth's rotation and to roll back time and save Lois lane from an earthquake.  Up to this point, I loved this film which followed the life of Superman -  when he coming to earth as a boy to later working for the Daily Planet.  This is one of the best movies for carrying off a Superhero.  But the end is just too much!

image.jpeg.4a104b65d6060c527f3c8921c2b91258.jpeg

I mentioned before in here about a co-worker who liked the movie up to that point too.  But what he said about that part is what cracked everybody up in the small group talking about it.

Which was;

"The movie lost all sense of reality for me at that point."  :P

 

13 hours ago, Dargo said:

Okay, I'll now admit here that in order to give me some ideas for Toto's thread topic, I guess you could say I kind'a cheated here.

Ya see, I goggled "Great movies with bad endings" and found a website which said it listed some of them. Among the movies listed in this website was the film Citizen Kane, and the following was what I would guess was what some clueless millennial's explanation as to why this acknowledged classic's ending was included in this list:

Citizen Kane

Considered by many as one of the greatest films ever made, Citizen Kane is known for its achievements in film-making and for its twist of an ending — was it much of a twist, though? Orson Welles piqued the audience's interest when his lead character, Kane, mysteriously muttered "rosebud" on his deathbed, but we were pretty baffled when it turned out to simply be the name of his childhood sled. Talk about a letdown.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Now, the reason I said "some clueless millennial" up there is because I must now ask how could ANYONE with ANY amount of life experience NOT recognize or understand and appreciate that the sled named Rosebud represents the idea that the ONLY time in his life that the titular character and a guy who it seems ends up with everything that money can buy, was ONLY truly happy when he was a child and before his mother sent him away in order for him to have a more privileged life?!!! And thus, this movie being a morality tale on the topic of "materialism" and to the exclusion of all else in life. Hell, even I understood this when I was about 15 y/o and after my first viewing of this classic. AND, an ending to a movie that STILL to this very DAY I believe is about as PERFECT an ending to a movie as ever was.

(...yep, the person who posted that up there DEFINITELY had to be some still-wet-behind-the-ears type, alright...aah, but hey, maybe SOMEDAY this kid might have a little epiphany about this...well, one might HOPE, anyway!)

So where'd you find goggles that fit?  ;) (Second paragraph up there)

And by the way, It surprised me too in finding out that conclusion wasn't crystal clear to others who watched the movie.  And also put in bold a statement of yours I totally agree with.  :)

Sepiatone

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